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Barber [née Bowker], Mary Elizabeth (1818–1899), poet and natural historian, was born at Manor Farm, South Newton, Wiltshire, on 5 January 1818, the ninth child and first daughter of Miles Bowker (1758–1839), woollen manufacturer and sheep farmer of Gateshead, and Anna Maria (...

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Margaret Cavendish Bentinck [Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785) by Joseph Brown, pubd 1861 (after Christian Friedrich Zincke, 1738) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bentinck, Margaret Cavendish [née Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley], duchess of Portland (1715–1785), collector of art and natural history specimens and patron of arts and sciences, was born on 11 February 1715 in London, the only surviving child of Edward Harley, later second earl of Oxford...

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Boate, Arnold (1606–1653), biblical scholar and writer on natural history, was born in Gorinchem in the Netherlands, a younger son of Godefroy de Boot (c.1570–1625), knight, and Christina van Loon (fl. 1600–1630). With his elder brother Gerard Boate he studied arts and medicine at the ...

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Boate, Gerard [formerly Gerrit Boot] (1604–1650), physician and natural historian, was born in Gorinchem, the Netherlands, one of five children born to Godefroy de Boot (c.1570–1625), soldier and author, and Christina van Loon (fl. 1600–1630). He entered the University of Leiden...

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Bolton, James (bap. 1735, d. 1799), natural history artist and mycologist, was baptized on 23 November 1735; he was probably born on a farm in the Calder valley, Yorkshire. He was the younger son of a weaver, William Bolton (or Boulton). His elder brother, ...

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Courten [alias Charleton], William (1642–1702), naturalist and collector, was born in London on 28 March 1642, the son of William Courten, who died insolvent at Florence in 1655, and Lady Katherine Egerton, daughter of John Egerton, first earl of Bridgewater. Sir William Courten (c. 1568–1636)...

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Hugh Cuming (1791–1865) by Maull & Polyblank, c. 1855 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Cuming, Hugh (1791–1865), conchologist and collector of natural history specimens, was born in the village of Washbrook, near Kingsbridge, south Devon, on 14 February 1791, one of three children born to Richard and Mary Cuming. He may have acquired an interest in conchology from ...

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Davidson, Thomas (1817–1885), natural history artist and palaeontologist, was born in Edinburgh on 17 May 1817, the eldest of the three children of William Davidson, the wealthy owner of Muirhouse and other Midlothian estates, and his wife, Jane, daughter of Alexander Horsebrugh of ...

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Dennis, James Blatch Piggott (1815–1861), palaeontologist and natural historian, was born, possibly at Colchester, on 4 August 1815, the son of Philip Dennis, an army officer. After attending Bedford School from 1830 to 1833 he was admitted to Queen's College, Oxford, in 1835. He graduated in 1839 and was ordained a minister in the ...

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Donovan, Edward (1768–1837), natural historian and artist, is of obscure origin and little is known of his early life and education. His interest in natural history started with the collecting of shells and preservation of insects, probably before 1788. He was a prolific author and skilled artist who etched and engraved the plates for all his works. He became a fellow of the ...

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Henry John Elwes (1846–1922) by Elliott & Fry Royal Horticultural Society, Lindley Library; photograph National Portrait Gallery, London

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F. R. S. Balfour

revised by Elizabeth Baigent

Elwes, Henry John (1846–1922), natural historian and traveller, was born on 16 May 1846, the eldest child of the four sons and four daughters born to John Henry Elwes (1815–1891) of Colesbourne, Gloucestershire, and his wife, Mary (d. 1913), fourth daughter of ...

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Maker: David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson

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Edward Forbes (1815–1854) by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, 1844 Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Forbes, Edward (1815–1854), natural historian, was born on 12 February 1815 in Douglas, Isle of Man, the oldest of eight surviving children of Edward Forbes (b. 1786), banker, and his wife, Jane Teare (d. 1836). He was the elder brother of ...

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Gatty [née Scott], Margaret (1809–1873), writer on natural history and children's writer, was born on 3 June 1809 in Burnham, Essex, the second daughter of the Revd Alexander John Scott (1768–1840) and his wife, Mary Frances Ryder (1785–1811). Her father, a linguist and scholar, had been chaplain to ...

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Gosse, Philip Henry George (1879–1959), general practitioner and writer on natural history, was born at 29 Delamere Terrace, Paddington, London, on 13 August 1879, the only son and second of three children of Sir Edmund William Gosse (1849–1928), writer, and his wife, Ellen (Nellie; 1850–1929)...

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Hawkins, Benjamin Waterhouse (1807–1894), natural history artist and sculptor, was born on 8 February 1807 in Devonshire Street, London, the son of Thomas Hawkins (1777/8–1811), artist, and his wife, Louisa Anna (b. 1781/2), daughter of William Waterhouse, plantation owner in Jamaica. Educated at ...

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Mary Impey, Lady Impey (1749–1818) by Johan Zoffany, c. 1783–4 [The Impeys: , Sir Elijah Impey (1732-1809), and their three children] © Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid